Maintenance, Rent Payment, Tenant Management, Tenant Screening

Zillow Rental Manager Review: Software Overview

cute vacant rental house

Say this for Zillow—they don’t have a name-recognition problem. They’re a a well recognized player in the world of real estate sales listings and analysis. For this Zillow Rental Manager review we’ll look at vacancy listings as well as the features commonly offered by property management software services.

Less well known than for-sale listings is Zillow’s foray into the online property management software world. They have a wealth of data, as well as the resources, and have recently devoted significant energy to expanding the scope of their rental management tool.

Also Read: Best Free Online Ways To Advertise Property For Rent

Many landlords are already accustomed to advertising vacancies on Zillow, but are now faced with significant listing charges. Zillow Rental Manager, including unit advertising, has been entirely free until recently. Landlords are now faced with fees of $9.99/unit/week to list their properties.

This Zillow Rental Manager review is meant to help you decide whether it is worth paying these new fees in order to advertise your vacant units. Let’s look at what you get for the money with Zillow, and how their service stacks up against the competition.

Our comparison is based on the following features:


Zillow Rental Manager Review: Subscription Tiers & Pricing

Zillow Rental Management has no tiered plans. Instead, it charges on a per-listing basis with weekly fees.

Costs for Landlords:

  • First Listing: $0
  • Each Additional Listing: $9.99/unit/week
  • Listing syndicated on Zillow, Trulia, and Hotpads
  • Tenant screening with background and credit checks (reports fees paid by applicants)
  • Online Leases (currently available in Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Alabama, Mississippi and select areas of Illinois)
  • Online Rent Payment

Costs for Tenants:

  • Background and Credit reports: $29
  • Online Rent Payment: Free bank-to-bank (ACH) transfers, 2.95% Credit Card fee, $9.95 Debit Card fee

The weekly pricing per listing makes Zillow one of the more expensive options on the market for advertising vacancies. Add to that the fact that one listing can’t service multiple units—each unit needs its own listing.

Also Read: The Best Free Property Management Software for Small Landlords in 2020

The good news, however, is that this weekly pricing only applies to when the listing is actively advertised on Zillow. There’s no ongoing monthly fee to access the other services, including online leases and rent payments.

If your unit leases quickly, paying to list using Zillow Rental Manager could make good sense. If you have trouble finding a qualified tenant quickly, however, the costs can quickly mount.

Even if the tool winds up being less expensive for the landlord, the fees passed on to the tenant can add up, in the form of credit and debit card payment surcharges and “convenience” charges.


Advertising Vacancies

You may already be listing your rentals on Zillow, as it has become one of the more popular rental listing platforms on the internet. Zillow Rental Management listings are also syndicated on Trulia and Hotpads, two more rental listing sites with large user bases.

While Zillow Rental Manager gives your vacancy listing broad exposure, there are many other listing sites on the internet. If you’d like to have your ads seen on sites such as apartments.com, apartmentlist.com, Zumper, and others you’ll need to manage those listings separately. Other services we’ve written about, including Avail, TenantCloud, RentRedi, and Buildium, feature more extensive syndication service. Some will even syndicate to the Zillow network (requires a paid account with Zillow) on top of the other sites they provide access to.

avail property management software logoAvail
With Avail rental property management software, you can advertise your property, find and screen tenants, sign leases, and collect rent, on any device, with tools built specifically for DIY landlords. 

TenantCloud property management software logoTenantCloud
TenantCloud is cloud-based rental property management software that helps you receive payments online, advertise your properties and screen potential tenants.

rentredi property management software logoRentRedi
If you’re looking for an all-encompassing rental property management software, RentRedi could be right for you.

buildium property management software logoBuildium
Buildium is rental property management software designed to support the larger DIY landlord and property managers.


Applications

Zillow Rental Manager offers you the ability to activate an “Apply Now” button in your Zillow listing. The button funnels prospects to the tenant screening process, as well as serving as a payment portal for the collection of fees and deposits.

For applicants who didn’t discover your listing from your Zillow ad, Zillow Rental Management provides you with an application link that you can send to them or add to outside listings. The application process includes the collection of Zillow Rental Management’s tenant screening fee, which it passes on to the applicant.

Note: One factor we’ve encountered in using Zillow to list vacancies is that there seem to be a lot of “tire kickers”; people who breeze through listings clicking automatic inquiry buttons and sometimes applying without having seen or seriously considered a unit. While Zillow Rental Manager provides good exposure to potential applicants, we’ve found that there is a low follow-through rate and much of our communication hits a dead end.

smiling tenant couple

Tenant Screening

When using the Zillow Rental Manager’s application feature, applicants are prompted to pay $29 for screening reports, which provide the following:

Basic applicant information

  • Applicant Name(s)
  • Contact information
  • Social Security & Driver’s License numbers
  • Date and Time of Application
  • Total Income
  • Income as a Multiple of the Rental Rate
  • Desired Move-In Date
  • Number of Occupants

Note: Income is self-reported by the applicant—verification of income is up to the landlord.

Also Read: Choosing the best questions to ask rental references

Credit Report

  • Credit Score
  • Percentage of On-Time Payments
  • Collections
  • Estimated Monthly Payment Burden
  • Percentage of Credit Used
  • Total Debt

The estimated monthly payment burden is a particularly useful figure—combined with the income figure, it can go a long way toward spotting people who have too much debt to afford the rent, even if they have enough income.

Also Read: The Best Tenant Screening Service for Small Landlords

Background Report:

  • Social Security Number Trace
  • Eviction Search
  • Sex Offender Search
  • Global Watchlist Search
  • National Criminal Search

Note: Zillow gives applicants the ability to share these screening reports with other landlords for 30 days. Because they only have to pay once, there is little incentive for apartment hunters to be intentional and careful when sending applications for units they may not be serious about.

Learn More: For a-la-carte screening service we suggest: ApplyConnect or RentPrep for screening reports, for rent collection there is PayRent or ClearNow, and for accounting and reporting look at Landlord Studio.


Leases & Signing

A part of our Zillow Rental Manager review includes a look at tools to help landlords manage leases. Included with the weekly vacancy listing fee is the ability to sign lease documents. For all locations nation-wide Zillow enables the upload of documents that you provide. From there you can setup electronic signing, making it easy to enact legal agreements remotely.

Avail Is A Winner: Residential Lease Agreements: Best Software for Small Landlords

In select locations Zillow Rental Manager provides a lease-building tool. This feature is currently available in Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Alabama, Mississippi and select areas of Illinois. City-specific lease documents are provided in a limited number of municipalities in Oregon: Portland, Eugene, Salem, Gresham, and Hillsboro. In these locations professional templates are available for your use, as well as a lease-creator wizard; select boxes or use toggle switches to customize lease terms such as start date, end date, fixed-term vs. month-to-month, key clauses, pet clauses, and more.

avail property management software logoAvail
With Avail rental property management software, you can advertise your property, find and screen tenants, sign leases, and collect rent, on any device, with tools built specifically for DIY landlords. 


Rent Collection

Zillow Rental Manager listings include an online payment portal that tenants can use to make one-time payments or schedule automatic payments such as rent or other regular fees. There’s no extra charge for this feature, and it’s a handy tool if you want to avoid picking up rent checks.

Renters can pay by credit card, debit card, or electronic transfers (ACH). ACH transactions are free to both landlord and tenants, however the deposit times are on the long side compared to other property management software products; funds will show up in a landlord’s account 3-5 days after they’re made by the tenant. Payments get deposited directly into the landlord’s connected bank account. Payments are processed through Stripe and Plaid, two of the most reputable digital payment processors in the industry.

Also Read: The Best Online Rent Payment Service for Small Landlords

Some landlords may notice that the fees for credit and debit card transactions are on the high side—a 2.95% fee for credit cards and a $9.99 “convenience fee” for debit cards. This may not sit well with landlords whose tenants are very sensitive to fees, or who depend on the ability to make credit or debit card payments.

Specifically For Rent Collection: PayRent or ClearNow


Communication, Maintenance Requests, & Tracking

Zillow Rental Manager seems to have no built-in functionality for tenant communication, outside of the application and rent payment process. Landlords and property managers will have to come up with their own system for communication, maintenance requests, and tenant tracking.

Also Read: Manage Maintenance on Rental Property using Property Management Software


Financial Tracking & Reporting

It is unclear how much financial tracking and reporting Zillow Rental Manager offers. Since it seems to do nothing financially other than collect rent payments, the reporting is pretty limited. With no functionality to keep track of expenses and other income, landlords will have to rely on other solutions for their bookkeeping.

Also Read: Reporting and Accounting Tools: Best Accounting Software for Landlords

landlord studio rental property accounting softwareLandlord Studio
Landlord Studio is an online and mobile rental property management software that helps you track income and expenses, screen tenants, set automatic reminders, and more.


Zillow Rental Manager Review: Take-Away

Zillow Rental Manager covers several useful bases—pricing, listing, application, tenant screening, lease signing, and rent collection. The biggest selling point is that it allows landlords to reach Zillow’s significant user base when advertising vacant units.

That being said, Zillow Rental Manager lacks certain features that we see as important to an online rental management platform—most notably income vs expense bookkeeping, financial reporting, tenant communications, and maintenance ticket servicing.

This just isn’t a professional, end-to-end property management software solution. Having to find other solutions for these critical functions could end up making the landlord’s life harder, not easier.

We’ve looked at lots of property management software products, and on balance we prefer more comprehensive platforms such as TenantCloud, RentRedi, or Avail. Pricing structures for these platforms differs from Zillow’s advertising model, and in many cases landlords are able to use these products at no cost. Even if they appear pricier at first glance (which is far from guaranteed, given Zillow Rental Manager’s weekly pricing model), we believe they offer much more value and convenience.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and Landlord Gurus may earn a commission. Our mission remains to provide valuable resources and information that helps landlords manage their rental properties efficiently and profitably. We link to these companies and their products because of their quality, not because of the commission.

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About Eli Secor

Eli comes from a family of real estate investors, dating back several generations. He currently manages his own multifamily property, apartment buildings for clients, and commercial spaces. He has particular expertise in the construction and maintenance arena, having spent almost 20 years in the construction fields.
View all posts by Eli Secor →

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